BusinessCompany NewsRetail group has something to crow about

Retail group has something to crow about

At a time when retailers like Laura Ashley are getting into hot water over their brand-name clothing, Peacock Group is proudly fanning its tail ahead of its results announcement next Wednesday.

And the group has a good reason for turning its nose up at the high street retailers. Once the poor relation of the clothing industry, Peacock is now raking in the profits as shoppers chose value clothing over brand names.

Over the past year, Peacock and its rivals have increased their market share to 15%, grabbing £712m more than in 2000 from consumers, according to a survey published last week by research company Verdict.

Finance director Keith Bryant will be able to show investors the results of the company’s radical shake-up in its merchandising operation after last year’s disaster. In January 2001, the company had bought too much stock and found itself issuing a profit warning.

The FD will be intently looking at the 34 new stores the company opened, which, by October were ‘trading successfully and ahead of plan’ according to chairman John Lovering.

His other concerns will include the company’s partnership with Woolworth’s in its ‘Big W’ stores. The companies plan to launch 13 new shops and develop a trial in the high street stores.

To improve its stock managing system, the company hired David Pigeon from rival Matalan.

In the year that followed, Peacock was more prudent in budgeting like-for-like sales and by its agm in October boasted a 6.2% growth.

He said: ‘The actions we took last year, in response to slower than expected like-for-like sales growth and increased competition strengthened our ability to achieve strategic goals and meet growth objectives in the future.’

At Christmas, Peacock saw a stronger sales performance and an improvement on margins compared to the previous year. In the five weeks to December 29 2001, sales were up by 12.6% and gross margins had grown by 3.6%.

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